Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Feelings of depression are common when patients and family members are coping with cancer. It's normal to feel sadness and grief. Dreams, plans, and the future may seem uncertain. But if a person has been sad for a long time or is having trouble carrying out day-to-day activities, there is reason to be concerned.
Depression can be mild and temporary with periods of sadness, but can also be more severe and lasting. The more severe type is often called major depression or clinical depression.
Major or clinical depression makes it hard for a person to function and follow treatment plans. It happens in about 1 in 4 people with cancer, but it can be managed. People who have had depression before are more likely to have depression after their cancer diagnosis.
Family and friends who notice signs and symptoms of depression can encourage the person to get help. Sometimes symptoms of anxiety or distress can go along with depression. Here are some signs and symptoms that could mean professional help for depression is needed:
Some physical problems such as tiredness, poor appetite, and sleep changes can also be side effects of cancer treatment, and can linger after cancer treatment is over. Ask your cancer team about the possible causes of these symptoms and if depression might be a factor.
Managing depression in people with cancer might include counseling, medication, or a combination of both, and sometimes other specialized treatments. These treatments improve the depression, reduce the suffering, and help the person with cancer have a better quality of life.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
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National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Patient and Family Resources: Managing Stress and Distress. Accessed at https://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/life_with_cancer/distress.aspx on January 31, 2020.
National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Accessed at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml on January 31, 2020.
Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). Symptom Interventions: Depression. Accessed at https://www.ons.org/pep/depression on January 31, 2020.
Pitman A, Suleman S, Hyde N, Hodgkiss A. Depression and anxiety in patients with cancer. British Medical Journal. 2018;361:k14-15.
Last Revised: February 1, 2020